Sabres’ Forward Depth Tested Amid Injuries

Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Quinn is out of the lineup and listed day-to-day with an upper-body injury after taking a puck to the head during Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins. The Sabres are now without two of their top forwards, as captain Kyle Okposo is also out with an undisclosed injury.

On Tuesday morning, the Sabres recalled forwards Anders Bjork and Riley Sheahan from the Rochester Americans. Sheahan made his season debut that night against the Vancouver Canucks, while Bjork was a healthy scratch. However, with injuries piling up, management will have to consider what options they have available in Rochester as they head into mid-November.

Anders Bjork

Bjork was brought to the Sabres in 2021 as part of the Taylor Hall trade. With the Bruins organization he played 29 games with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Providence Bruins and 138 games in the NHL. Last season, he played 58 games with the Sabres and was a regular in the lineup until the end of the season, when he was often scratched. He has eight points (five goals, three assists) through 58 games in Buffalo. He had a career-high of 19 points in 58 games with the Bruins during the shortened 2019-20 season.

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Bjork was placed on waivers on Oct. 17 and assigned to the Americans the day after. Since then, he has scored three goals and three assists through 11 games. In the season opener, he scored the game-winning overtime goal against the Belleville Senators.

Although he was scratched against the Canucks, in practice, Bjork and Sheahan have rotated on the fourth line. He may get a chance in the lineup as the Sabres embark on an Atlantic Division road trip Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Riley Sheahan

Sheahan started this season recovering from an injury suffered in training camp and was assigned to the Americans on Oct. 31. Since then, he’s put up three assists in six games.

Unlike Bjork, Sheahan played several full seasons with the Detroit Red Wings between 2013-2017 before bouncing around to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Florida Panthers and Edmonton Oilers. His first stint with the Sabres was during the 2020-21 season, but he signed with the Seattle Kraken during that offseason. He rejoined the Sabres in 2022.

Riley Sheahan, Seattle Kraken
Riley Sheahan, Seattle Kraken (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With more NHL time than most players in Rochester, Sheahan adds much-needed experience to an incredibly young Sabres roster. In his last full season with the Kraken, he put up 17 points in 69 games.

Who Else Could Get Called Up From Rochester?

While Bjork and Sheahan are with the big club right now, there are a few good options on the Americans who could lend a hand to the NHL roster while some of their main players are out with injuries.

Brandon Biro

Brandon Biro signed with the Sabres as an undrafted free agent in 2020 after playing four years at Penn State. He has had a few impressive seasons in Rochester, including 2021-22, when he put up 12 goals and 29 assists in 48 games.

This season, Biro leads the team with 12 points in 12 games. His play has been impressive through the first stretch, with hopes that he’ll continue to produce at the same rate as last season. At 24 years old, he’s still young enough to develop into a reliable player who the Sabres can call up when needed.

Linus Weissbach

Drafted in the seventh round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Linus Weissbach played all four years at the University of Wisconsin before signing with the Sabres. His first year in Rochester was last season, when he put up 37 points in 67 games. This season, he’s only behind Biro in points, with 11 in 13 games. He also leads the team in goals, with six.

In Rochester, Weissbach has taken on a leadership role. Given management’s emphasis on character, he would fit well into the culture head coach Don Granatois trying to establish.

Brett Murray

Drafted by the Sabres in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Draft, Brett Murray joined the Americans in the 2019-20 season, where he recorded 24 points in 55 games. His totals increased in his second AHL season, with 32 points in 52 games. He played 19 games with the Sabres last season, recording six points.

Brett Murray Rochester Americans
Brett Murray, Rochester Americans (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This season, Murray remains one of the top goal-scorers on the Americans, with five goals in 13 games, including a buzzer-beating game-winner against the Syracuse Crunch on Oct. 22.

Future Options for Buffalo

Injuries are inevitable in any given season. However, the Sabres should feel confident that they have an excellent farm team to draw from when needed. Beyond the players mentioned here, a handful of recent draftees could also get a chance in Buffalo toward the end of the season, depending on the state of the team. Despite their recent losing streak, Buffalo is doing better than they have in years, and they have enough young forward talent in their pipeline to maintain that and hopefully become even better.

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